Posts Tagged ‘American regional cooking’

5 Restaurant Trends for 2012

March 6, 2012

Consumer research firm Mintel recently noted five trends it believes will influence U.S. restaurant menus in 2012. Some of them are relatively new, while some are constants. I’ve briefly outlined these five factors below. Read them and let me know what you think.

 

Consumer Control

 

Let’s face it: everybody likes to take control now and then, even if it’s just over what they eat. In fact, anyone who’s worked the floor for even a single shift knows that guests like to have as much control and say-so as possible while they are in your establishment!

 

This is something that most smart operators try to cater to more and more every year. It can mean offering more options for each dish. In the past couple of years, it may also mean offering mobile ordering apps or even iPads at your dining tables.

Whatever the case, the trend towards patrons’ control over their dining experience is likely to only increase – which is probably good for everybody.

 

“Slow Food”

 

“Home style” and similarly-themed menu items have been popping up on menus across the country in the past few years – including fast food menus! Mintel puts this down to customers who have finally decided they need more than just efficiency from their fast food restaurants. The company expects this trend to further affect the food service landscape in 2012.

 

“Double-Sided” Menus

 

Restaurants of all types are paying more attention to customers’ wishes for healthier menus. For the foreseeable future, most chains, franchises, and even mom & pop operations will likely offer lower-calorie or other “healthy” food items, while still offering more “traditional” dining-out choices.

 

Global Consciousness

 

Many large chains and franchises test out ideas in other national markets before they bring them back to the U.S. One example would be the McBite, which McDonald’s tested in Australia before releasing the idea in America.

 

This same kind of global reach also means that ideas from across the globe are working their way into U.S. franchise menus. It is likely that this trend will only increase.

 

Appreciation of American Regional Cooking

 

Finally, Americans are becoming more conscious of cuisine from all over the U.S. One example would be the Philly cheesesteak sandwich, which has gained popularity all over the United States in the past decade. You can find Cajun-themed restaurants hundreds of miles from New Orleans, and Southwestern-themed chains all over the country.